Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim PC
Published by: Paradox Interactive
Developed by: 1C:Ino-Co
When the original Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim was released back in 2000 it was quite unlike any other RTS that had gone before. In fact it's quite unlike any RTS that's been released since. Given that it was a popular game it's a surprise that it's taken so long for a sequel to appear. Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim is finally with us and once again it manages to offer up a dramatically different RTS experience. The game does have a few problems however which prevent the game from being as enjoyable as it could have been.
In the game's sixteen mission campaign you'll play the last in the line of kings that have ruled the kingdom of Ardania. The previous monarch, King Leonard was worried that he hadn't had the chance to prove himself as a great king and thereby have his portrait hanging alongside those of the other great kings of Ardania. There were no great monsters or necromancers to battle with in order to prove himself as a great king. Out of desperation, he requested his mages to summon a demon lord and his minions with the idea being that he would at last have a worthy opponent to slay and therefore be considered as a great king. For five days they battled but it did not go to plan and the king was slain by the demon lord who in turn claimed the throne for himself. With the land of Ardania no in chaos and monsters roaming the land, it's time for the rightful heir to the throne, you, to sort out this mess and restore Ardania to its former glories. In addition to the campaign you'll find six single missions to tackle and a multiplayer mode that supports both LAN and Internet play for up to four players.
The key difference between Majesty 2 and other RTS games that you may have played is that you don't have direct control over your units. Instead you have the ability to assign four flags to various enemies and objects. The defence flag can be placed on buildings, citizens or heroes that you want protecting. The attack flag can be assigned to an enemy or enemy dens (from which the enemies will respawn) that you want to get rid of. Should you want an area exploring you can place an explore flag. There are enemies and monsters you'll probably want to avoid during the early stages of a mission and you can place a fear flag on these enemies to warn your units from coming into contact with them. Simply placing a flag isn't enough to make your heroes carry out your objectives however. You'll also have to attach a monetary award to the flag (in multiples of 100 and 500 gold) in order to make your heroes carry out your orders. This is a unique method of control that works very well. However, you won't have your orders carried out as promptly as you would in other RTS games due to you not having direct control over your heroes in Majesty 2. This does add an interesting twist to the experience however.
Your hero units are certainly the main focus of the game, particularly once your infrastructure is up and running. They will gain experience and level up and as they reach the higher levels you'll want to do what you can to keep them alive (they can be resurrected for an exorbitant price if you wish however). There are several classes on offer including Rangers, Rogues, Clerics, and Mages. Once you've conducted the relevant research, you'll be able to use your king powers to heal your heroes, for a cost, and when your heroes are facing some of the tougher enemies you'll be doing this quite a lot. You can't take your heroes from mission to mission but you can promote one of them at the end of a mission and they can then be recalled into another mission as a Lord.
Your heroes can benefit from more powerful weapons and more durable armour which can be researched at the blacksmiths. You can also conduct research at other buildings in the game (including the guilds) and these will give you more powers to use as a king as well as improving your heroes. At an inn heroes can be formed into parties to give you a greater attacking threat. There are over 20 different buildings in the game, at which research can be conducted, although you won't have access to some of these in the early campaign missions. As your settlement grows you'll notice other buildings appear automatically, such as the graveyard and windmill.
Whilst Majesty 2 is fairly enjoyable, the campaign could have been less repetitive. In each of the game's missions you'll start with a few peasant houses and your castle. You'll begin by having to get your settlement up and running. This involves placing economic buildings, guilds (which produce your hero units), guardhouses and temples. For several years now many RTS games have had campaigns where missions allow you to build on the progress you'd made in previous missions. This reduces the need to constantly wipe the slate clean and go through the occasionally tedious process of rebuilding your infrastructure for each mission. Majesty 2 doesn't do this however and feels dated and repetitive as you're required to get your infrastructure up and running for each mission. Another problem is that in the later missions of the campaign the difficulty level can spike rather sharply and this makes for a frustrating time. Whilst the game does have some humorous touches, it's not as humorous as the original Majesty and that's a little disappointing.
Graphically the game isn't anything special. That's not to say the game doesn't look quite pleasing but it's certainly not as impressive as some RTS titles we've seen in recent years. This does have the advantage of allowing you to run the game on less than stellar PC configurations however. Our rather lowly GeForce 8800GT coped absolutely fine even though it only has a pathetic (by today's standards) 256MB. The game has a rather bright colour palette which is pleasing on the eyes. The unit animations are mostly fine but some of them certainly could have been better, you'll notice that a lot of the characters walk in a rather awkward fashion for instance.
Majesty 2 is mostly OK for deaf gamers. The campaign's opening movie isn't subtitled and this is unfortunate as it sets up the storyline quite nicely. The second paragraph of this review more or less covers what's said in that cutscene however. Mission briefings are subtitled. Mission objectives are also given in text. The Quest Log allows you to recall the main and additional quests for each mission which is useful, especially if you haven't played the game for a while and saved during a mission. Comments made by your heroes and civilians aren't subtitled. A variety of icons will show you their general mood however. There are quite a lot of icons that are shown above the heads of your heroes that will let you know what action they intend to carry out. All tutorial information is given in text allowing you to get up and running with the game fairly quickly.
The wait for a sequel to Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim has been a long one and fans of that game will certainly be pleased to get their hands on this sequel. For the most they will probably be fairly satisfied with what's on offer here but I think most would agree that it's not quite up to the standard of the original game. The campaign missions feel dated and the difficulty spikes you'll encounter in later missions will certainly cause frustration for some. That said, the game is quite enjoyable and quite unlike any other RTS that has been released for the last eight years or so and it has to be said that despite the aforementioned problems, the game can be quite addictive and appealing to those who wouldn't usually class themselves as hardcore RTS fans.